Funding will support Metro Detroit Healthy School Pantry Program
Beaumont Children’s has received a $150,000 grant from Rite Aid Healthy Futures, designed to help expand equitable care and improve health outcomes for children in underserved and vulnerable neighborhoods.
The funding comes through the charity’s Connecting Communities signature initiative and is part of an overall $3 million investment in more than 30 children’s hospitals serving Rite Aid communities.
The goal of Connecting Communities is to help major institutions like children’s hospitals collaborate with the neighborhoods around them in new and deeper ways, and ultimately connect people and places with the resources needed to advance health and racial equity.
Initial funding will support a wide range of hospitals and their community-based programs across 15 states. Funded programs concentrate on screening for food insecurity, food distribution and nutrition education, and aim to help eliminate root obstacles that keep communities from achieving health and wellness.
With support from this grant, Beaumont Health will implement school food pantries in 11 southeast Michigan schools across the Wayne-Westland, Taylor, and Romulus Districts. With children spending much of their time at school, school pantries are an effective way to meet the needs of children and their families, while also promoting nutrition and wellness through education and support services.
“We can't expect our kids to achieve academically if they are food insecure, dealing with mental health issues or other things that are impeding or acting as barriers to their learning,” shares Dr. John Dignan, Superintendent of Wayne-Westland School District. “We must make a conscious attempt to knock down any barriers that are standing in the way of our kids and their learning. Education is the key to open doors, and all kids need to have access to it.”
According to Charlotte Alex, director, Children’s Miracle Network, Beaumont Children’s, “For nearly 25 years, Rite Aid has donated more than $5 million to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Beaumont Children’s. This generous grant from Rite Aid Healthy Futures demonstrates Rite Aid’s commitment to kids’ health and changing the future in Southeast Michigan. On behalf of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Beaumont Health Foundation, we are immensely grateful to Rite Aid Healthy Futures for investing in Metro Detroit’s youth through the Healthy School Pantry Program.
Focusing on the whole child, Beaumont’s unique approach to providing school-based food pantries will look beyond food access to include basic needs and wrap-around services to youth and families. School pantries will offer nonperishable snack items that students can grab-and-go during the day, backpack items students can take home to prepare, and basic hygiene items both perishable and nonperishable items. School staff will be trained on the Beaumont Community Resource Network (BCRN) to further connect families with additional services such as housing, employment, education, and transportation.
The grants are funded through Rite Aid’s KidCents fundraising program. Generous Rite Aid customers can round up their purchases online or in-store to support children’s health and wellness. Healthy Futures reinvests the funds into Rite Aid communities through programs like Connecting Communities.
“Expanding equitable care doesn’t start in the emergency room. It starts in our neighborhoods,” said Matt DeCamara, executive director of Rite Aid Healthy Futures. “Though the needs are great, so are the opportunities for progress. Children’s hospitals already play a critical role delivering vital medical care, and many of these institutions have developed impactful programs to serve kids, families and communities in ways that extend beyond traditional medical care. Working together, we can ensure everyone has what they need to live longer, healthier lives.”